SCOOP! Alien Skin Exposure X Is About So Much More Than Styling Stills; Use It To Visualize Movie Looks Too.

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

The eagerly awaited update to Alien Skin’s Exposure, the popular analog film and print process emulation software, has arrived and Exposure 7 has now grown up into Exposure X. I just downloaded the 15-day trial version and have begun dipping my toes into the many improvements that have appeared with version X.

I have something of a soft spot for Alien Skin Exposure. It is unique amongst emulation software in simulating more than many of the great analog films and common chemical toning methods. In particular, it does a great job of emulating some of the more obscure, often arduous and sometimes ridiculously expensive printing processes of the past. For example, palladium and platinum printing.

I delved into both with a friend before giving them up as way too costly, then was chuffed to discover both were in heavy use at the collectable end of the photography market in the UK. Platinum printing aka platinotypes in particular played a major role in convincing art collectors there to dip their reluctant toes into the photographic waters after shying away for decades.

Brilliant emulation of classic & alternative analog films.

A friend captured in conversation, with the image processed in nine different Alien Skin Exposure 7 black and white presets. Analog film and print looks from upper left through to lower right: Camera Raw only, Polapan, Tetenal Copper-toned, infrared sepia-toned, Neopan Lomo, Panatomic-X with selenium split, Polaroid Lith print look, wet plate, Wizard of Oz sepia. All footage still frames and photographs shot with Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro or Mitakon lenses then processed with Adobe CC 2015 Camera Raw and Alien Skin Exposure 7 then Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

A friend captured in conversation, with the image processed in nine different Alien Skin Exposure 7 black and white presets. Analog film and print looks from upper left through to lower right: Camera Raw only, Polapan, Tetenal Copper-toned, infrared sepia-toned, Neopan Lomo, Panatomic-X with selenium split, Polaroid Lith print look, wet plate, Wizard of Oz sepia. All footage still frames and photographs shot with Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro or Mitakon lenses then processed with Adobe CC 2015 Camera Raw and Alien Skin Exposure 7 then Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

Platinotype and its sister the palladiotype are just one of many alternative or non-silver photographic printing processes to come and go over the years and all have their virtues. I was lucky enough to try out a few of them during my art school years. The last such method I used was lith printing, which uses diluted lithographic developer with conventional photographic paper to produce moody, flesh-and-sepia-toned prints that are especially appropriate for portrait subjects.

Platinotypes, palladiotypes and lith prints are just some of the many alternate printing processes beautifully emulated in Alien Skin Exposure. There is a raft of classic color films for stills photography and moviemaking, panchromatic monochrome photographic films, split toning processes, color and monochrome infrared films, vintage pre-celluloid plate negatives, color and monochrome instant films and more.

Two-in-one, merging Bokeh into Exposure.

Exposure also contains plenty of extra presets with exposure and contrast variations as well as vignetting and bokeh effects that were once contained within a separate piece of software named, oddly enough, Bokeh. So Exposure 7 and now X are a two-in-one deal, combing two applications in one.

Exposure X has added more options in its Bokeh category, with true-to-life pinhole camera, Petzval and freelensing presets. The Petzval preset is a pleasant surprise. I once owned an 8”x10” wooden studio camera with a Petzval portrait lens attached – I swapped it for a Plaubel Makina 120 format camera when I began roaming the planet for a spell.

More recently Lomo revived the Petzval lens design with its Lomography New Petzval 85 Art Lens and the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens will be released. Given the peculiarities of Petzval optics, digital emulation cannot duplicate those qualities exactly but Exposure X’s Petzval preset makes a damned good attempt at it.

And a fun one. Fun is always a factor when working with Alien Skin Exposure, I have found, combined with pleasure when applying a preset and seeing just how uncannily it evokes the look and feel of yesteryear.

Exposure has plenty of uses for the stills photographer but it makes an excellent visualization and looks planning tool for moviemaking too. I have often used stills processed to emulate the looks I have visualized for eventual footage in treatment documents and software like Exposure has a part to play in that.

The other value in using Exposure and its wide range of presets and photo editing tools is how it opens one’s mind to looks well beyond the usual. I can understand the apparent safety of resorting to the orange-teal look for blockbuster movies, but there is a universe of other possible looks available to us with contemporary color grading software.

Todd Miro’s Teal and Orange – Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness article from 2010 covers the reasons moviemakers still default to this look and its many downsides.

Exposure X is a terrific way of reminding oneself of what else is possible, and encapsulates those many possibilities within a standalone nondestructive photo editor or plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom. Its many new features can be applied to raw files or non-raw file formats, as you will discover on giving the trial version a whirl.

 

I used to keep rolls of GAF 500 35mm color transparency film in the fridge for those occasions when the available light was low but photographs had to be made regardless. It was grainy and not terribly sharp but its color was luscious. GAF 500 apparently was a favorite film of several photographers whose work I admired, amongst them Deborah Turbeville and Sarah Moon. Ellen von Unwerth may have been a GAF 500 user too judging from the grain and colors of many of her photographs but I missed my chance to ask when I had her shoot an Adidas advertising campaign for me once. The benefit of emulating long-gone films like GAF 500 digitally is you can dial down the grain but still retain the lush color rendering.

The look of GAF 500 film, minus the golf ball grain. I used to keep rolls of GAF 500 35mm color transparency film in the fridge for those occasions when the available light was low but photographs had to be made regardless. It was grainy and not terribly sharp but its color was luscious. GAF 500 apparently was a favorite film of several photographers whose work I admired, amongst them Deborah Turbeville and Sarah Moon. Ellen von Unwerth may have been a GAF 500 user too judging from the grain and colors of many of her photographs but I missed my chance to ask when I had her shoot an Adidas advertising campaign for me once. The benefit of emulating long-gone films like GAF 500 digitally is you can dial down the grain but still retain the lush color rendering.

The Technicolor 2 process was an early version of what we generically refer to as Technicolor and was soon replaced with Process 3 and then Process 4, both having much improved color rendition compared to Process 2’s limited color range. The Technicolor Process 2 look has a certain charm though and has merit when used in flashbacks or recreating the look of old feature films.

The Technicolor 2 process was an early version of what we generically refer to as Technicolor and was soon replaced with Process 3 and then Process 4, both having much improved color rendition compared to Process 2’s limited color range. The Technicolor Process 2 look has a certain charm though and has merit when used in flashbacks or recreating the look of old feature films.

The summer blockbuster look, also known as orange/teal, has become a cliché in color grading feature films and seems to be the default go-to look for many moviemakers when there are so many other color palettes that can be used. Its virtue, though, is recognizability. After the first few frames of an orange/teal movie, the message is broadcast load and clear that watching it will be a gripping, emotion-laden journey and you better be ready for it.

The summer blockbuster look, also known as orange/teal, has become a cliché in color grading feature films and seems to be the default go-to look for many moviemakers when there are so many other color palettes that can be used. Its virtue, though, is recognizability. After the first few frames of an orange/teal movie, the message is broadcast load and clear that watching it will be a gripping, emotion-laden journey and you better be ready for it.

I relied on Polaroid color films in my 4”x5” sheet film cameras for getting a reasonable idea of how photographs would turn out in terms of image design though not color. Previewing shots with Polaroid film felt like a waste of the film’s potential, though, but its limpid colors, cyan shadows and soft, luminous skin tones were not acceptable to my magazine clients. I later made the acquaintance of European fashion photographers who made fashion photographs using Polaroid film in 8”x10” sheet film cameras for magazines and advertising campaigns where its distinctive colors were considered virtues, not faults. v

I relied on Polaroid color films in my 4”x5” sheet film cameras for getting a reasonable idea of how photographs would turn out in terms of image design though not color. Previewing shots with Polaroid film felt like a waste of the film’s potential, though, but its limpid colors, cyan shadows and soft, luminous skin tones were not acceptable to my magazine clients. I later made the acquaintance of European fashion photographers who made fashion photographs using Polaroid film in 8”x10” sheet film cameras for magazines and advertising campaigns where its distinctive colors were considered virtues, not faults.

Style your stills and visualize movie looks too with amazing Alien Skin Exposure X photo editor. Click To Tweet

Exposure X Introduction

Exposure X

Via Alien Skin:

Exposure X is the creative photo editor that handles every step of your workflow. From card transfer to organization to editing, Exposure simplifies routine tasks and delivers a rich set of tools for developing beautiful photos.

Creative

Exposure’s carefully researched library of styles gives your photos a human touch. Each look encompasses many subtle changes that work together to evoke emotion. Explore these visual ideas for inspiration and then quickly refine them to develop your own style.

More about Creativity

Scott-Stulberg-Elephant-700

Simple

Exposure streamlines photo management by eliminating burdensome chores. You don’t need to import photos into Exposure, so browsing is fast and easy. There are no user interface modules, which lets you edit and organize photos at the same time.

More about Simplicity

Exposure X – Simple

Flexible

Exposure’s flexible features handle any photography workflow. Use it as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom, or as a complete photo editor on its own. As a standalone app, Exposure X helps you quickly edit RAW photos non-destructively.

More about Flexibility

Bruce-Cotton-Swiss-Countryside-700

Exposure X – Speed

View tutorials here.

Get your Free Trial and Learn more about Exposure X.

(cover photo credit: snap from Karin Gottschalk)

Karin Gottschalk

Karin Gottschalk

Karin is a documentary moviemaker, journalist, photographer and teacher who conceived and cofounded an influential, globally-read, Australian magazine of contemporary art, culture and photography. While based in Europe, contributing to the magazine and working in advertising, she visualised a future telling the same sorts of stories with a movie camera and audio recorder. Now back in her home base in Sydney, Karin is pursuing her goal of becoming an independent, one-person, backpack multimedia journalist and documentary moviemaker. Mentorless and un-filmschooled, she is constantly learning and sharpening up her skill set.
Karin Gottschalk

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